Woody Allen’s 1998 Observer Piece On Basketball Now Online


The New York Observer is celebrating 25 years this year. The weekly paper is celebrating by republishing classic pieces for their site. Amongst the pieces to get a fresh dress is a lengthy piece by Woody Allen about basketball from 1998.

The piece is called ‘Notes of a Know-Nothing Knicks Fan‘. As the title suggests, Allen is typically self deprecating about his knowlegde and expertise. Not as brightly funny as his recent piece about hypochondria, there are still some great lines and ideas throughout.

Woody Allen is a big fan of basketball, and is a regular fixture at Knicks games, being bettered only by his director and friend Spike Lee. The Knicks are his team, and a significant amount of the piece discusses his love of the Knicks.

When asked why it is so important that the Knicks win, since at the end of the game or even the season nothing in life is affected one way or the other, I can only answer that basketball or baseball or any sport is as dearly important as life itself. After all, why is it such a big deal to work and love and strive and have children and then die and decompose into eternal nothingness? (By now, the person who asked me why the Knicks winning is important is sorry.)

The piece goes into Allen’s throughts on such classic players as Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird and more. Here he talks about Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman.

My favorite player in the league is Charles Barkley. Not only has he been thrilling over the years, but his performances have been original and funny. I find his attitude of wanting a championship ring, but not letting it be a life-threatening event should he fail to obtain one, quite refreshing. He, like Dennis Rodman (although he brings it off with much more flair and aplomb), does not give an inch to the sanctimony that permeates professional sports.

The piece ends with a laugh – as Allen breaks down the typical sports interview.

Int: In the upcoming playoff game, where will your team be staying?
Star: We’re going to try and stay within ourselves.
Int: But you’ll be trying to take your game where?
Star: To another level.
Int: By having your point guard do what?
Star: By raising his game a notch.
Int: And where do you plan on finding the game?
Star: I’m going to just let the game come to me.

You can read the full article at the Observer website.

Woody Allen rarely writes guest columns these days, and even a digital reprint of one is a treat. And even though this article was written in 1998, 15 years later Woody Allen is still spotted on the Knicks sidelines.

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